- Prepare for food shortages with a plan that includes the what, the where, and the how.
- Learn about the proper methods of food storage and preparation.
- Find sustainable alternatives to shelf-stable food to supplement your stores.
- Don’t forget to store water, as well as other essentials.
- Plan for a balanced diet that includes all the major food groups in abundant supply.
Whether you are concerned about the short-term impact of supply chain issues, or you are worried about long-term shortages, stockpiling could be a wise move.
We’ll look at a basic starter plan for those who want to seriously begin stockpiling for food shortages that could occur in the future. We’ll look at the right ways to plan for shortages, how to fill your stores, and what kinds of foods and supplies will best sustain you in an emergency situation.
This plan is not meant to be prescriptive or exhaustive, but should give you a solid starting point to effectively build your stockpiles in case of global food shortages.
What Can Cause A Food Shortage?
The causes of food shortages can vary, but there are a number of scenarios that have the potential to cause real disruption.
We may face short-term disruption in the global supply chain, preventing some essential goods from reaching distribution points. A public health crisis would not only create panic buying, but could cause supplies to dwindle due to lower production.
More severe causes could be natural disasters, eruptions of conflict, blight that destroys crops and ruins the global food supply, or other major catastrophes.
These disruptions could be for a short period of time, such as in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane or forest fire. Or it could be a period of weeks, months, or even years. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll consider a long-term food shortage scenario (although the concepts can certainly be scaled down as needed).
Whatever the cause, you can start to plan for food security now to avoid any anxiety or worry about how you will survive an emergency situation.
Tips For Stockpiling Food During Shortages
Plan Now To Be Prepared Later
The first step in preparing for food shortages is to come up with a plan. Remember, the primary reason to stockpile is to be prepared, and effective preparation always starts with good planning.
Think about how many people you will need to store food for, how much food you want to have on hand, and for how long. Think about every aspect of what you will need - and not just for food and water.
Decide Where To Store Your Stockpiles
The next major step is going to be determining where you will store your stockpiles. After all, everything you’re saving up for the future has to live somewhere.
If you have an attic or basement space that isn’t subject to major changes in temperature or humidity, that would be the ideal place. You may also be able to convert a garage, shed, or barn to be outfitted for long-term storage.
Find the right ways to secure your stockpiles, but make sure that you can access them easily if the need arises.
Build Your Stores Gradually
The key thing to remember is to avoid panic buying. You might run the risk of too much of your stores going bad at once, or not being able to properly store everything that you’ve bought.
One common strategy for stockpiling is to buy two of everything whenever you go to the store. The thought process behind this rule is that you will use one of each item now, and store the second one in your stockpiles.
This is an effective way to stock food without contributing to a food shortage yourself. Just build your stores item by item over an extended period of time, and eventually you’ll have enough long-term food storage to suit your needs.
Focus on Non-Perishable Foods
We’ll go into the specific types of foods to gather later, but the most important rule is to focus on non-perishable foods, or foods that have a long shelf life and don’t need to be kept using storage methods that require power (like refrigerators or freezers).
Whole grains, nuts, beans, and other similar items can last for years if stored properly. Additionally, while preservatives can be unhealthy, these additives can be a great way to keep certain foods shelf-stable for months or even years at a time.
Having fresh foods will be important to ensure that you maintain balanced nutrition for the long haul, but you should plan for the majority of your diet to come from non-perishable food items.
Don’t Forget the Little Ones
Babies can be the most vulnerable during food shortages. Keep plenty of baby foods and formula on hand to ensure that they can stay healthy and happy too!
Become A Food Prep Expert
There are lots of things you can do now to learn about proper methods of food preparation and storage. Your stockpile will replace grocery stores in a crisis, and you’ll want to make sure that your supplies remain viable.
This includes how to prepare foods for long term food storage, as well as learning how to process and use those foods when you need them.
Learn Long-Term Storage Methods
There are plenty of reliable ways to store pantry items for the long term, and with a little practice and the right supplies you can pick them up pretty easily.
Canning is one of the most popular methods, and can be used for short-term and long-term storage. This usually involves adding some kind of preservatives to fresh food like fruits, vegetables, or meats, then storing in airtight containers like glass jars.
Freeze drying and dehydrating foods are two more great methods of food preservation. These processes remove the water from foods, which will help them avoid spoiling longer. Sometimes this requires specialized food preparation tools, but it could be worth the investment if you want to keep certain foods on hand.
Another reliable method is vacuum sealing. By removing all the air from your emergency food, this method of long-term food storage can give items a long shelf life.
Learn Methods of Food Processing
Once you store your food, you’ll also need to learn how to use it again once you take it off the shelf.
Rice, noodles, beans, grains, and more can be kept in their raw form for years if stored properly. However, that means you’ll need to learn how to make it usable when cooking down the road.
Some simple food preparation tools like a grain mill or spice grinder can help you process those raw ingredients into something more usable
Look Into Sustainable Food Sources
In addition to shelf stable items, you should also think about how you will generate sustainable food sources. Healthy eating depends on a balanced diet, and you should have a way to add fresh, healthy foods to your diet.
Farming and Gardening
Even a small garden can provide a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that can supplement processed foods. You can grow a variety of crops in a small space; even a few different root vegetables like carrots and potatoes can bring variety to what would otherwise be a bland diet.
If you have the space and the ability, try expanding into a larger plot to grow more than just a few vegetables. Try planting a few fruit trees, or make enough so you can plant crops for multiple years. And don’t forget about herbs: they can add flavor and fun to any meal.
Save Enough Seeds to Replant
Whatever you decide to plant, consider how you will plan for the next round of planting.
There are proper ways to preserve seeds that can guarantee the ability to grow those same crops next season. A little bit of research can ensure that your harvest doesn’t just last one year, but gives you the opportunity to have enough food for the long haul.
Raising Your Own Animals
Canned meats can only get you so far. Preppers who decide to raise their own animals will have a sustainable source of food that can really make the difference in an emergency.
Raising animals like chickens and cows can also be a sustainable source of dairy products like milk and eggs that would otherwise be unavailable if commercial methods fail. If you have enough animals available, you can also clean and butcher them to supplement your food storage items.
Stockpile Plenty of Water
It’s not just about food; the human body needs water too. A good rule of thumb is to store one gallon of water per person, per day.
If you’re able, you should also think about locating a sustainable source of water nearby for when your stored water runs out.
Don’t Forget Pets And Livestock When Planning Food Storage
If you’re planning to have livestock or other animals with you in the midst of a food shortage, don’t forget to keep them supplied as well. You’ll need to keep enough food and water for your animals as well to keep them healthy, too.
Your pets can provide much needed companionship during a crisis. Keep properly stored quantities of pet food available for them as well.
Remember Your Other Supplies
Food shortages are also not limited to just food. There are a myriad of other supplies you should prepare for in addition to what you will eat and drink.
Items like first aid kits, fuel, cash, clothing, batteries, and paper goods are just a few of the things you should keep on hand. Remember that you might also need enough of these supplies to last you for long periods of time, so ensure that your plan and your storage areas include these vital resources too.
Learn And Practice with Others
There can be strength in numbers, and that’s especially true in a food shortage situation.
You can prepare for upcoming food shortages by learning from other preppers and building a network of like-minded people. Consider sharing any excess items in your food supply, and ask others to do the same. Join a local farmers market or start a community garden to learn ways to keep sustainable food sources available.
Top Foods To Store For Shortages
These are some of the top items you should have on hand during a food crisis. You should think about your needs and the needs of your loved ones, including any allergies or special dietary considerations.
Your food storage should always include high-quality sources of protein. This is an essential nutrient that can be hard to come by in a food shortage, since most sources of protein (like meat and dairy) will go back if not stored properly.
Canned food is an obvious solution, since most canned items are good for months at a time. You can also look at options like powdered milk or eggs to replace their fresher counterparts.
Additionally, protein bars and powders can be a reliable supplement depending on what your food supply looks like.
Whole Grains and “Fillers”
Carbohydrates provide the necessary energy for our bodies, and these high-energy foods are essential to have on hand in abundance.
Items like rice, pasta, oats, and whole grains are a great place to start. You can also expand your stockpiles with pre-packaged items like crackers, cookies, cereals, and granola bars.
Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh produce will only last so long before your supplies give out, and it’s important that your everyday diet continues to include “real food” like fruits and vegetables. They are vital sources of vitamins and minerals, and can provide much needed variety during a food shortage.
Fruit cans, canned veggies, and dried fruits can be preserved to last for years to come. You can even grow your own produce and use simple methods to preserve it yourself, if you don’t want to rely on commercial canned goods.
Nuts, Beans, and Seeds
Nuts, beans, and seeds provide the perfect balance of fats, proteins, and fibers. They can be staples of your diet, as well as healthy snacks to supplement larger meals.
Items like beans, nuts, and lentils can be stored in bulk for years when done properly. Seeds like flax and chia can even be used as replacements for eggs in a pinch.
Preserved and Processed Foods
You can also prepare for food shortages by keeping some processed foods on hand. These may not be the most wholesome food items, but many of the added preservatives in commercial foods will keep your food supply viable for extended periods of time.
Canned soups and dried beans are easy candidates. Items like crackers, cookies, and cereal can bring some comfortable favorites into your stores. Peanut butter is a reliable source of protein, and even candies can last for a long time for a sweet treat.
Flavorings and Additives
Cooking during a food shortage doesn’t have to be boring. Many items like oils, vinegars, and spices can have an extended shelf life.
Salt and pepper are two essentials, as well as a cooking oil like olive or vegetable oil. Sweeteners like honey or sugar are also vital cooking staples to have on hand. You can find most spices in pre-ground varieties that will be good for several years at a time, or you can keep them in seed form then grind them yourself as needed.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker